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Why you’re not being promoted

I recently told an incredible woman (let’s call her Kate) that she would not make partnership at her firm.  Not now or anytime soon based on her current actions, behaviours and outcomes.

Harsh, but it was the truth she needed to hear.

She was hardworking, dedicated and reliable.  She had a long history of delivering good work. 

She knew she had been “drifting” for the past couple of years but was unclear on what she needed to be doing differently to get the type of recognition needed to progress her career. 

So how could I be so certain to be bold enough to give her the very direct advice about her prospects to make partnership?

Quite simply – because I quickly recognised that she had been focusing her efforts in all the wrong places.

The one thing I know with a high degree of certainty is – the difference between a good career and a great career is where you focus your time, energy and resources.

And she was not focusing her time and energy on the things that mattered most to the organisation.

I asked Kate, “Do you know what the senior executive team would need to see from you to be considered for partnership?”

There was silence at the other end of the phone.

The penny had just dropped.

She had no idea!

And that’s a problem.

If you want to be considered for promotion, you need to demonstrate that you can have an impact on what matters most to the business.

This will vary from business to business but you can count on some common ones such as sales, profits, strategic direction, continuous improvement, customer service, delivery of key projects, company culture and efficiency.

When you want to be considered for a senior role within a business, being hardworking is not enough.  You need to demonstrate you care about the business beyond just doing your job.

Kate also recently received specific feedback for improvements the senior executive team wanted to see from her.  The frustrating thing was  she had already been doing these things … But NO ONE knew.  She is like so many women I meet who are humble, diligent and shy away from playing the political game.

But your hard work and achievements amount to nothing if they remain invisible. 

Ladies, we have to find a way to make you and your achievements more visible.  Being proud of your work and letting people know about your progress and achievements is not “brown nosing” or ego driven.  It’s smart!  It’s necessary!  It will get you recognised!

And finally, I want to have a word about the importance of attitude.

Kate admitted that over the last couple of years, her attitude had been a little less than stellar!  I love her honesty.  It’s only when we are honest about this, that we can do something about it.

Do you honestly believe that you would promote someone into a senior role if they had a poor attitude?  I know I wouldn’t.  A CEO I work with often reminds his senior leadership team to hire on attitude first, skills and experience second.  And I see an increasing number of high-performing businesses that all aspire to this philosophy. 

So if you’ve found yourself drifting along unable to break into the next level of leadership, there is a fair chance you too may need to make some changes to where you are focusing your time and energy, dial up your visibility or take a long hard look at the attitude you are bringing to your work. 

Need some help to work out what it is for you?  I’d love to invite you to book a 15-minute Career Breakthough Session with me just like Kate did.

Click here to answer a couple of questions and book in a time.

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